Four Ways to Improve Print Shop Workflow with Collaboration Tools

Collaboration is defined as the act of working jointly toward a common goal. It is essential to a smooth print shop workflow. But collaboration gets complicated when you, your employees, and your print buyers are all working on multiple projects, at different times of the day, and from different locations. Clear and timely communications can be tricky if some team members work flexible hours from locations other than the main office.

Miscommunications causes all sorts of costly headaches including delayed estimates, inaccurate job costing, lengthy proofing cycles, missed deadlines, or the inadvertent use of the wrong version of a corrected file.

Building a single, centralized software-driven workflow fosters better collaboration and reduces miscommunication. A good print-shop management system makes it faster and easier for everyone in your shop to communicate with each other, with clients, with suppliers, and with outsourcing partners.

Here are four points to consider:

Build on what’s available.

To help improve communications within their own companies, many workplaces now use online collaboration tools such as Google Drive or Slack. Drive makes it easier to share files. Slack gives team members a shared workspace where conversations are organized and accessible.

With print-shop management programs such as Ordant, you can continue to use these existing collaboration tools while refining print-shop-specific capabilities such as job planning and customer-relationship management and adding client-facing tools such as print estimating, proof approval, and online ordering.

A well-integrated print-shop-management program can be the single source of truth for all of the planned and current print jobs within your company.

When properly implemented, print-shop management software will reduce the amount of time employees waste searching for the most current job files, customer contact information, materials pricing, or shipping instructions. It can also minimize mistakes that can occur when employees in prepress, production, finishing, or shipping aren’t aware of changes requested by your clients.

Choose a cloud-based system.

With a cloud-based system, employees and clients can stay up to date on the progress of a job whether they are working from home or are on the road. They can access the job data through whatever device they happen to have with them — whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Many younger workers have grown accustomed to using cloud-powered collaboration tools such as Slack and Drive. So they may expect easy-to-use collaboration tools to be available for print-job-management functions as well.

Create a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

One benefit of setting up a print-shop management program is that enables you to clarify the type of communications habits and work practices you expect your team to adopt.

If your print-shop management program will be your single source of truth for the state of your business, it’s imperative that your employees collaborate to keep the data updated. The system can’t be fully effective if employees start keeping records or processing orders outside of the system.

Make it clear that when the system functions as it should, everyone will be in a better position to help each other out as needed. If a customer calls with a question about a job in process, everyone should be able to answer it.  And more employees will be able to provide quotes for simple, routine jobs.

It’s also important to ask your employees to routinely suggest new and better ways to collaborate. Continuous improvements to the system will be needed as your shop grows and diversifies. .

Collaborate with customers.

When you have more peace of mind about your everyday operations, you will be in a better position to collaborate with your customers. If you aren’t constantly bogged down with crises related to miscommunications, you will have more time to offer problem-solving assistance to your clients. Some customers might want recommendations for new types of printed products that can help them stand out in the marketplace. Others may need help with the logistics of getting event graphics printed, delivered, and installed at various event sites.

Even with good print-shop management software, your workflow won’t always run like a well-oiled machines. For example, your client may be late in returning an approved proof because they had to get it approved by managers in five different departments working in four different time zones. But when you have a clear oversight of the status of all work in progress, you may be able to adjust your schedule to accommodate such issues.

At Ordant, our software developers have paid close attention to rise of online collaboration tools. We understand that all cloud-based collaboration tools (including our own) must be extremely easy to learn and integrate with any other business management software you already use.

Ordant software is built to improve collaboration in print-shop workflows so you can do a higher volume of profitable work with greater efficiency and minimal errors and bottlenecks. To schedule a demonstration, visit.

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